1,3-Propanediol and its copolymers: research, development and industrialization

Biotechnol J. 2010 Nov;5(11):1137-48. doi: 10.1002/biot.201000140.


1,3-Propanediol (PDO), is now taking the transition from a traditional "specialty chemical" to a "commodity chemical". The market for PDO is growing rapidly as the technology develops. With the advancing PDO production technology, polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) as a new type of polyester has been applied in carpet and textile fibers, monofilaments, films, and nonwoven fabrics, and in the engineering thermoplastics area, because PTT has unique properties compared to other polymers such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). Responding to the environmental and sustainability factors, one- or two-step fermentation technology for PDO production has attracted people's attention. A novel flexible process for PDO production by using aerobic fermentation from glycerol or glucose has been developed and demonstrated with a facility capacity of 4000 t/year in a pilot plant. By using engineered Escherichia coli, 135 g/L PDO was obtained with glucose as feedstock. Since the bio-process of PDO production consumes 40% less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20% versus petroleum-based propanediol, the bio-based PTT is more environmentally friendly and sustainable compared with the fossil fuel-based polymers, which made PTT more attractive with good prospects for the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Phthalic Acids / chemistry
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Propylene Glycols / chemistry*


  • Phthalic Acids
  • Polymers
  • Propylene Glycols
  • 1,3-propanediol
  • terephthalic acid